SpaceX prepares for Starship’s second test flight after securing FAA clearance

SpaceX aims to send Starship to space for its second test flight on November 17, now that the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has given it the clearance to do so. The company completed its next-generation spacecraft’s first fully integrated launch in April, but it wasn’t able to meet all its objectives, including having its upper stage fly across our planet before re-entering the atmosphere and splashing down in the ocean near Hawaii. SpaceX had to intentionally blow up the vehicle in the sky after an onboard fire had prevented its two stages from separating.

According to federal agencies, debris from the rocket explosion was found across 385 acres of land on SpaceX’s facility and at Boca Chica State Park. It caused wildfire to break out on 3.5 acres of state park land and had led to a “plume cloud of pulverized concrete that deposited material up to 6.5 miles northwest of the pad site.” The FAA grounded Starship until SpaceX took dozens of corrective actions, including a vehicle redesign to prevent leaks and fires. As Space notes, the agency finished its safety review in September, but it still had to work with the US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) to finish an updated environmental review of the spacecraft.

For now, the FAA has given SpaceX the license to fly Starship for one flight. The company will open the spacecraft’s two-hour launch window at 8AM EST on November 17, and if all goes well, Starship will fly across the planet and splash down off a Hawaiian coast as planned. Starship, of course, has to keep acing test flights before it can go into service. The fully reusable spacecraft represents SpaceX’s future, since the company plans to use it for missions to geosynchronous orbit, the moon and Mars.


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